i-tage (踏歌智行), an autonomous mining vehicle startup, has bagged 400 million yuan (US$55 million) in a Series C2 round of funding today.
The round was led by Hefei Industry Investment Group and China Clean Development Mechanism Fund, with participation from Huangshan New Era Culture and Tourism Fund, Lucion, Tsingstone Asset Management, BUAA Holdings Co., Ltd and Hefei Xincheng.
The fundraiser secured by i-tage is the largest single financing in China’s autonomous mining sector year to date.
With the latest proceeds, i-tage plans to improve its autonomous mining technologies and products, to apply them in more complex scenarios and roll out electricity-powered unmanned mining vehicles.
The Beijing-based firm also looks to penetrate the domestic market and expand overseas.
China’s mining industry is transitioning from a phase characterized by loose safety standards, fatal accidents and low efficiency into a domain driven by digitalization and automation.
The first to achieve 24-hour autonomous operation
With a record of over 2,000 accident-free work days, i-tage has become the first company within China to achieve autonomous operation around the clock and independent of a safety officer.
Its autonomous vehicles have been deployed to more than a dozen mines.
i-tage’s solutions target both existing and newly added mining truck fleets, as well as wide-body mining vehicles. Nearly 20 state-owned enterprises have taken delivery of its products, spanning dozens of types of vehicles.
To date, i-tage has installed its smart driving solutionson 400-plus mining trucks, and undertaken over 30 autonomous driving projects, with a repeat purchase rate of almost 100%.
According to a study by Global Data, a leading data consultancy, of emerging mining companies in Q1 2023, i-tage ranks first in China and sixth across the world. It is also the only unmanned mining truck startup that made the list.
Finance-wise, the company’s revenue in 2022 surged more than 100% year on year, and is expected to increase by threefold to fivefold in 2023.
As a leader in the segment, i-tage has made exceptional inroads in autonomous driving and applications of other innovations, said Jiang Xin, general manager of Hefei Industry Investment Group.
“It leads the industry in commercialization and is the first to achieve 24-hour operation without a mining safety officer onboard,” Jiang added. “i-tage is the mainstay of the digitalization of the mining space.”